Trainer Firas Zahabi: The Backbone of Carlos Condit’s Style Is Unpredictability



In studying footage of Carlos Condit ahead of Georges St. Pierre’s bout against him Nov. 17 at UFC 154, trainer Firas Zahabi has noticed one danger above all others: Condit’s unpredictability.

“I think Carlos’ style, the backbone of his style, his standup style, is that his combinations are very unpredictable,” Zahabi told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” show. “You notice he doesn’t really do the same combinations twice. He’s always throwing a bizarre combination and then he’ll throw another bizarre combination and he keeps you guessing with his combinations. That’s the danger of it because he doesn’t give you any pattern to follow. It makes it hard for a trainer to drill a specific counter.”

If Condit kicked low regularly, for instance, St. Pierre might drill a straight right counter. But Condit does much more than throw a few telegraphed kicks.

“He kicks to the head,” Zahabi said. “He kicks to the legs. He knees to the head. He throws elbows. He throws uppercuts. He pretty much throws everything there is in a really random fashion. It makes it difficult as a coach to prepare for that, but definitely, definitely that’s the biggest danger, I think. That’s what we’re preparing for.”

Zahabi puts Condit on the muay Thai end of the striking spectrum as compared to the majority of welterweights, whom he considers boxers.

“The angles are different,” Zahabi said. “The techniques, the attacks are different. I’m getting Georges to do a lot more muay Thai for this fight. I’m making him do knees also, putting on the chest guards and doing days where we practice the knees. Carlos is very good with the knees, the flying knee. He’s got long legs. He knows how to use the spear knee to counter your punching. You can’t really get into a low boxing stance because of the way his style is. You can end up kneed in the head or kicked in the head really hard. We’re going to have to adjust Georges’ style for that.”

One fighter helping St. Pierre train for the matchup, which will unify the UFC welterweight titles, is Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

“Wonderboy, he’s able to mimic any style,” Zahabi said. “He’s able to fight righty and southpaw. I noticed that Condit sometimes switches it up a little bit during his combinations, not before. I want to make sure to bring that in, and a lot of jiu-jitsu guys. We’re very [friendly] with the jiu-jitsu guys from Renzo Gracie’s.”

Jiu-jitsu black belts Mark Bocek and Ryan Hall are also training at Zahabi’s Tri-Star gym in Montreal, helping St. Pierre sharpen his ground game before the title fight.

“When it comes to the jiu-jitsu game, of course [Condit is] a very well-developed jiu-jitsu practitioner,” Zahabi said. “His jiu-jitsu’s very strong. I have a feeling he’s going to try to scramble from his guard to try to get back up. Georges is going to have to dominate the standing and dominate the jiu-jitsu when he’s on the ground.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:43).

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